To kick off the Seventh Annual Quality and Safety Symposium (QSS), Daniel Runde, MD, MME, clinical associate professor of Emergency Medicine, and rising fourth-year medical student Sarah Ziegenhorn will discuss issues surrounding providing care to people with addictions. Runde and Ziegenhorn are the Chair of the Board of Directors and the Executive Director and Founder, respectively, of the Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition (IHRC), a public-health nonprofit organization. With services such as overdose prevention and free Narcan distribution; infectious disease prevention, screening, and linkage to care; and much more, IHRC works to provide supportive resources to an at-risk population of people who use drugs and engage in sex work.
When they are not providing care to more than 4,000 Iowans throughout the eastern and central parts of the state, Ziegenhorn’s team of six employees and 150 volunteers provide overdose-prevention training and technical assistance on harm reduction to organizations across Iowa. They also develop public policy and advocate for legislation to improve access to addiction treatment and to prevent HIV transmission via the state legislature.
A central value of the coalition is “harm reduction,” which uses strategies that focus on respecting the rights of people who use drugs while reducing the harmful effects of drug usage. Most importantly, harm reduction creates a culture and rhetoric that does not ignore, judge, or punish drug use, but simply supports the individual autonomy, dignity, and wellbeing of those experiencing a substance use disorder. In order to create the most effective program, IHRC takes many factors into consideration such as socioeconomic status and the perspective of people who use drugs.
“IHRC does too much work, on too many fronts, to neatly summarize here, but simply put, it is saving lives and reaching people who have fallen through the cracks of our current medical system,” Runde said in a recent Faculty Focus. In addition, a Q&A with Ziegenhorn from last year offers insight into how IHRC reaches people who might otherwise avoid using health care services.
Ziegenhorn and Runde will speak on Wednesday, November 20, at 4:00 p.m., in the Urmila Sahai Auditorium (2117 MERF), during the first of two keynotes at this year’s QSS. The rest of the afternoon and evening will be devoted to the annual QSS poster session. (The Call for Abstracts is now open.)
The following morning, Thursday, November 21, more presentations will be held followed by a second keynote, to be delivered by David Marx on “just culture,” during Internal Medicine Grand Rounds at noon in the Medical Alumni Auditorium (E331 GH).